I am ALLEN.
I carry the weight of my shame.
It’s so heavy that I stumble when I walk.
It spills forth into the street for everyone to see.
I hear the sighs and taunts.
I hear the sniggers and whispers.
I see them laugh at me and I bow my head in shame.
But they made me what I am.
They led me down this road.
I open my thighs every night and I feel nothing.
Shame and guilt eats deep into me.
I have lost hope.
There is no redemption for me.
Where do I even begin from?
Who would love and accept me?
I carry my shame as a deformity.
They call me that ‘name’ that is only spoken in whispers.
You know that harry potter film; ‘he who must not be named’
That is the name they call me,a name too dirty that it cannot be mentioned in polite company.
They think I do not hear but I do and a searing pain rips through my heart.
I die every day, a part of me buried with every one of these men.
I have no dreams, no future.
This life is all I know, it’s what I was born into.
You sit there from your high throne and mock me.
You think yourself righteous.
You think you have a right to judge.
Who gave you that right?
You hear me, No one.
Do you know what it means not to have hope, to live in depression, not to know where your next meal would come from?
Have you felt fear, have you starved?
Have you felt the biting cold, the rain pelting down your back, the scorching sun and you knew there was no shelter to run into.
Have you woken up each morning and wished death could take you because life had no meaning, each day left a bitter taste in your mouth.
No, you do not know what it means to stand on that road day after day.
You do not know what it takes out of me.
If you knew, you would hide your face in shame.
When you know, when you have walked a mile in my shoes, then you can judge.
Until then keep quiet. Say nothing. Turn a blind eye. Do nothing.
Doing nothing is what got me here. So why should you do any less.
I want better you know, I watch the television and I want a charmed life too.
I close my eyes when he goes into me and I live my fairy tale, it makes the time move quickly.
I want love too and I imagine it was someone I love holding me in his embrace.
I want to have hope, I do not want to go to bed each night and soak the sheets with my tears.
I want this sham of an existence I live to end.
I want more out of life.
We are a people decadent and I do not say this lightly.
I use ‘We’ to show that I am included.
Moral decay has eaten into the fabrics of our existence.
You see I pass through ‘Allen’ Mondays to Saturdays and I am ashamed at what I see.
I used to laugh at the sight until Chioma Ngaikedi made me have a rethink. Thanks dear.
I am forced to acknowledge that it’s not often their choice of living, that at times that’s all they know.
Oh yes you can give examples of people who have been poor and yet not had to engage in such actions to survive.
Now I am not saying that what they do is right.
Prostitution in any sense is wrong but it is easier for you to condemn and say you won’t be involved but alas you have never felt what they feel.
It’s easier to stand at a distance and feel all self-righteous but you have never known what it means to have no hope. You still think you are any better right?
What of ‘bae’ that you sleep with, has he married you; he is boyfriend abi and you are the girlfriend right. What do they call it: ‘Bae and Boo’. What is the difference between the both of you, oh you are not standing on the road. I see clearly.
The ‘Boo’ in question, you think you are any less different from the lady standing on the road, No! you are not, when you are stocking ‘body count’ like a pile of inventory. ‘Bae’ you think you are any different from the guy who patronises them. My darling you are not any better. You stand accused just like them.
Along the road where they stand, there are two churches and a school and I wonder how two churches and a school can be located side by side a bar.
We pass through and the bus conductors call at them and the ladies hurl abuses at them and I laugh at their antics but it hides a shame. I am ashamed for them, I am ashamed that they live in a country that cannot support them. I am ashamed that for them that’s the only hope they have.
And you should hear the stories the passengers have to tell.
My colleague says you can’t have a husband who works on Allen and allow him leave the house angry.
I am disappointed that this is the level we have descended to.
Is that what we have turned to?
You see if there are no ‘men’ to patronise them, they won’t be on the road. Day in day out cars stop and our ‘men’ come out to ask for their ‘services’ and I am bewildered by the sight.
I am sorry that this is the life they know. I am ashamed that this is what they have to do to survive. I feel guilty that I can’t do anything about it.
When next you see one, don’t be in a hurry to condemn. You have not walked in their shoes, you do not know their circumstances.
Above all in their imperfections they carry the image of the perfect God.
He is who without sin let him be the first to cast a stone.
Say no to insurgency and Yes to a peaceful Nigeria.